2016 Holiday Gift Guide — DIY
by Anton Olsen
Why buy something for $10 when you can spend hundreds on the tools and materials to build it yourself! I’m joking of course because DIY is less about the end product and more about the process and learning required to get there.
For the person on your list that has every Transformer known to man, and seems to get them at a rate that there’s no way you can get them something they don’t already have, there’s Reprolables. Ranging all the way from restoration sets to complete conversion kits, there is something for every Transformers collector — from old school ’80s toys all the way to the latest Titans Return. I discovered them a few years back when I was restoring original G1 toys; but I’m hooked on their conversion and upgrade kits for more recent toys. I grabbed a few Battle Core Optimus Primes and Reprolabels sent me their kits to turn him into completely different characters — Thunderclash, Nova Prime, and Ultra Magnus. You get that old school thrill of applying details to your toys. But the conversion kits aren’t so involved that they’re going to take days to complete (unless you’re doing a multi-bot set like Devastator). With an hour or so of effort, you end up with a toy with an entirely new deco that you’ve completed yourself. They’ve even started branching out into 3D-printed add-ons for toys like Titan’s Return Laserbeak. Toyhax also has stickers for third-party transforming toys, Power Rangers Megazords, and G.I. Joe vehicles. They’re well worth checking out.
Looking for a gift that’s personal and thoughtful; but isn’t going to break the bank or require you to take an evening course in scrapbooking? Artifact Uprising (I used them for my my daughter’s picture wall) has amazing photo products, from calendars, to cards, to soft and hard cover photo books, that you can pull together in less time than it will take you to read this article. Have a vacation from the past year that you and your partner loved? Make a stocking stuffer of your favorite pics in a photo book. Want to create a photo catalog of the year in review for a parent that didn’t get to visit the grandkids this year? Select 3–4 pictures for each month (you get 40 pages to start with in a 5 x 5 softcover book) and create something much more personal than a box of chocolates or some soap. Artifact Uprising’s print quality is some of the best I’ve seen from online print shops. Their paper is fantastic and their photo accessories are beautiful. To make it even easier on your holiday budget, Artifact Uprising is offering GeekDad readers an exclusive 10% discount for the next seven days. Just enter AUXGD10 at checkout
Everyone needs great tools, but starting out in the world of 3D printing can be expensive and confusing. Many low-cost printers don’t come assembled, and are a hurdle right from the beginning. The Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer, however, comes pre-assembled and tested for quality assurance. The package also includes various tools, filament, and pre-installed patterns, meaning your geek can print immediately out of the box.
The Select Mini also features a heated bed paired with a high-temperature nozzle, allowing you to print in a huge range of plastics, wood and metal composites, and both conductive and dissolvable PLA.
The best part, of course, is the price. For under $200, this printer is a steal. No need to have several printers for different materials, no need for expensive upgrades, and it’s ready to go out of the box. It’s practically begging you to give it to someone.
With more and more geeks diving into the realm of 3D printing, more kids are interested in starting this trending hobby. Unfortunately, most printers have steep learning curves, and the geek must do a lot of research before using their printer. With the Micro 3D, however, it’s just plug and play. M3D provides software which takes the guesswork out of the dozens of decisions that must be made for each print.
The Micro is a great gift for any beginner. Simply download a pattern from the millions published around the internet, double-click, and hit “print.” The Micro does the rest. It also calibrates itself, inserts supports automatically (which is a big deal for folks new to printing), and has a UL safety rating, meaning it’s fun, easy, and safe for users of any skill level.
Finally, because it’s shipped with filament (ink), all your geeky recipient must do is plug in the printer, and go. The only delay your geek must face is deciding what to print first.
IncrediBuilds: R2-D2IncrediBuilds: Star Wars: R2-D2 Deluxe Book and Model Set
Suggested By: Will James
Mfg: Insight Editions
Purchase: IncrediBuilds: Star Wars: R2-D2 Deluxe Book and Model Set
Insight Editions, known for some really great books, has a new line of DIY books called IncrediBuilds. This line of books features not only a beautiful book on the target subject but a glueless wooden 3D model as well. They cover a ton of different topics and fandoms from Harry Potter to Star Wars to Superheroes and more!
I chose the R2-D2 book since we are all big Star Wars geeks in our house. The book itself is essentially divided into two parts: the model building instructions and the actual content. These are a blast to build and result in a really good looking wooden model.
I’ve written about both the U-Wing and X-Wing model kits from Revell. If, like me, you grew up with these kinds of model kits, I will say that they have come a very long way. These kits, once assembled, look as good (if not better) than any toy off the shelf. Not only do all of the pieces fit together seamlessly, but the parts are all color molded and have built-in details (like the orange stripes on Poe’s X-Wing). No glue or paint is necessary to have a 100% screen accurate model. Of course, if you want to take it to the next level, you could probably just do some weathering on top of the base kit and be extremely happy.
I’ll admit it; I first began using the TrackR system simply because it allowed me to find a misplaced smartphone by asking Alexa, my digital assistant of choice, for help. Now with TrackR bravo, I can just as easily locate my car keys or even that ridiculously small Amazon Fire TV remote that my kids can’t seem to keep track of. I can tap the app and use the bravo’s item-ringer to find exactly where in my misplaced item managed to hide itself, and, consequently, I can press a button on the TrackR bravo to make my phone ring–even in silent mode! With 2-way separation alerts, I can setup a gentle reminder to let me know if the 100-foot radius Bluetooth connection breaks between me and my valuables, and TrackR’s crowd GPS system can even update the location of my lost or stolen devices using other nearby users. While I’ll certainly never stop losing things, TrackR bravo can surely help me find them faster. [Review material provided by TrackR.]
Trying to find a suitable on-ramp into the world of smart home automation is like trying to hit a moving target; there’s always something new and exciting–and very often confusing and overwhelming–on the horizon. That’s why I cannot recommend the Caséta Wireless line from Lutron highly enough. Their Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Starter Kit contains everything you need to add wireless smart functionality to up to four standing or desk lamps. With the installation instructions literally integrated into the packaging itself, you’re clearly walked through connecting the system’s Smart Bridge to your wireless router, plugging your dimmers into your wall sockets and the lamps into the dimmers, and pairing those dimmers with their Pico wireless remotes. Within minutes you’ll be able to turn on, off, and dim (when using appropriate bulbs) your interior lighting with ease. Better yet, the system can be just as easily integrated with Alexa using the Caséta smart home skill for the Amazon Echo, allowing for voice command control. With additional third-party integration for products from Apple Homekit to Honeywell and Nest, it’s the one smart home product you know will play nicely with practically any other system you can throw at it. [Review material provided by Lutron.]